Round 15: Parramatta v Canterbury preview
The Eels come into this clash off the back of a comfortable 40-12 victory over the Wests Tigers, a victory that pushed them to 3rd on the NRL ladder and hanging out with the big boys.
Canterbury... well. Wow. Absolutely dismantling the St George Illawarra Dragons on Monday 28-6, and despite my doom and gloom match preview last week, providing this author with a lovely cash injection, having taken the Bulldogs 13+ option. Reverse psychology works! (gamble responsibly!)
In team news, Parramatta winger Maika Sivo is out (suspended), paving the way for Eels junior Sean Russell to make his NRL debut on the wing. Another debutant - Nathaniel Roache - comes in on the bench. Keegan Hipgrave also joins the interchange, replacing Bryce Cartwright who is demoted to the reserves.
For 'Dogs, the team that ran out against the Dragons on Monday is the team named Tuesday. After moving back to fullback (you know, his actual position), Nick Meaney will now hopefully stay there, after a superb performance in the custodian role. What have I been saying? Ahem...
Last time they met was in Round 8 this year at Stadium Australia, with Parramatta having the match wrapped up inside the first 20 minutes, eventually running out 32-10 winners.
Who to watch: Mitch Moses was brilliant on the weekend for the Eels (even allowing for being a bit lippy with teammates), and Clint Gutherson absolutely destroyed the Bulldogs last time they played. If these two turn it on this weekend, Parramatta win this comfortably.
Besides the already mentioned fullback playing at fullback finally, Jake Averillo's performance at #7 was easily his best in a Bulldogs jersey. He will need to keep going with this form if the Doggies are to be any chance this week. He took the line on, passed well, and his Rugby League brain was there for all to see. Much tougher challenge this week, though!
The favourite: At the time of writing, the Eels are $1.08, the Bulldogs $8. Parramatta comfortable favourites.
My tip: The Bulldogs are back in form, and this is the kind of fixture that could trouble the Eels. You never know, but the Eels just have to replicate their performance last week - or last time these two played - and they should come away with the two points. Parramatta by 12.